Information from the museum, 18 February 2009
The Diana tapestries are being shown to the public for the first time as a series of six in Rijksmuseum Maastricht. In 2006, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam acquired three tapestries with themes from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. They are part of a series, three of which were already in the museum’s collection. The acquisition of the tapestries was made possible by the BankGiro Lottery and the Rembrandt Society.
The tapestries were designed in the 1590s by Karel van Mander, who came from Meulebeke in West Flanders, but who became better known after he moved to Haarlem. The whole series was woven in Delft, in the atelier of François Spiering, who was also originally from the Southern Netherlands. Spiering seized his opportunity at a time which was difficult for Flemish workshops in Brussels and elsewhere because of the hostilities with Spain. Despite the Eighty Years’ War, the Netherlands was a prosperous country.
The Diana series is the absolute pinnacle of Dutch tapestry. The text of the Metamorphoses is often followed down to the last detail, with the dramatic end being either hidden or left out. The viewer is not bothered by the gruesome punishments meted out to mortals by the goddess Diana, and Ovid’s stories are depicted as elegant fairytales. The exhibition also focuses on the restoration of the tapestries, which was carried out in 2008.
Queen and huntress chaste and fair: the Rijksmuseum’s Diana tapestries is also the farewell exhibition of Ms. Ebeltje Hartkamp-Jonxis, who left her position as textiles curator at the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam in December 2008. Among other things, she is known for her scholarly catalogue European tapestries in the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam 2004). In honor of her work, the Bonnefantemuseum is organizing a scholarly symposium in June 2009, in which international specialists will be looking at the representation of Diana in European art of the 16th century, and in tapestries in particular.